Archive for July, 2011

The Eternal Bitchers

Why to spoil this blog by writing about something which is not good, but this is for a genuine advice from all those who read this, about something all of us face sometime- People who are constantly complaining and bitching about others.

I feel most of us can relate to this as we know someone who is always speaking the worst possible for all the people who stay around them, be it co-workers, the boss, their friends, neighbours and the family. These people need someone who does the mistake of giving them an ear and then they start, without a pause. They have all the complaints against everyone, and one wonders what these people would say about the one they are talking to others. I am not a chauvinist, but the fact is that such people are mostly, almost 100% girls, and that too ugly girls, frustrated with their lives, and finding faults in others to justify and assert themselves.

The only thing that I felt can be done in this case is to avoid such people, and not giving them a hearing, as if they get started once, it is difficult to run away.

Beware of Bitchers.

The Essense of Everything

 

I was wondering where our world is going?

And this thought came when I studied how this planet was created and how it has evolved over time. It is the only living planet that we know of. When the representatives of countries meet in a climate change forum, they try to negotiate deals which enable them to get away with the least stringent, least binding commitments, so that the development is not hampered, and basically, the economic crisis that may worsen due to slowing down the current pace may not plague their respective governments, and ultimately they manage to stay in power.

So, we are getting sucked in a circle where we continue to accelerate our own demise, and this is the height of myopic thinking.

It is about survival, not development.

I am using a laptop to write this. There is no way in which I will ever be able to return this laptop back to where it came from, and when this becomes useless, it is going to stay permanently on the face of this earth. we have not even spared the space.

The question is- What constitutes development? It is today seen as the amount of goods we consume, the energy we spend, and the (adverse) impact we have on the earth. It is very true that a substantial proportion of humans live a life more derogatory than imaginable in the third world. For them, realisation of the human potential and a dignified living is to be provisioned, so that they can become independent and productive. China also has a huge population, as India, but it has managed to do two things- First- Control its population, Second- Employ most of its people in manufacturing jobs, becoming the manufacturing hub. But is this the solution? The major talk today is about energy security, job creation and voices of sustainable development. As a country like India, it is difficult for us to emulate the example of Bhutan, which has set up an example in Sustainability, as the scale is entirely different.

Then what should be our course of action?

I agree that development is essential, but what we are doing today will ultimately lead to permanent catastrophe on this planet, and if that is what all of us want, then surely we are going on the right path.

Our planet is a gift, to us. It sustains life, not just for us, but for a million other life forms, much of which are still undiscovered. It does not matter how much the human race progresses, it has to stay on the earth, as the earth will always be the one that offers the womb to the myriad life forms. Then, is it wrong to slow down, pause and see what wrong we have done, and mend it.

The time calls for giving a thought to distant future, and not immediate gains. For thinking about survival in the long-term, and not the current luxuries, otherwise we will end up loosing everything, and ruining the gift- The gift of Life, on this majestic planet.

The Miracle Called India

This deals with how a country more diverse than the continent of Europe manages to stay in harmony, and retain its characteristics despite all the factors which go against such existence.

The bumble-bee can not fly according to the rules of aeronautics. The lucky bee does not know this and enjoys its flight. Moral- Ignorance is bliss.

I remembered a short story of a half-golden mongoose who tried to turn the remaining half golden by rubbing itself on the ground where Pandava kings had made many offerings and sacrifices. The previous part of the story is more relevant here, that how did that mongoose get its half golden body.

Long long ago, The was a family of 4, living in a famine struck area. There was no food for many days in the house, and everybody was starving, when one day, the house head managed to get some flour. His wife prepared 4 pieces of bread for the family. As they all sat for their dinner, there was a knock at the door, and a guest arrived, saying that he was hungry, and not knowing what the family was going through all these days. The head gave him his share of food, but he finished it off in a moment, and said, he was still hungry. And the wife gave away her share, followed by the children. The guest had his meal, and went away satisfied. That night, the family died. The mongoose, while passing from that place, got few particles of that bread touched to its body, which turned golden. It was trying to find a similar sacrifice to turn the remaining body golden too, but was unsuccessful.

Many of us have read this story. What struck me today was that these stories, and others from Panchtantra, Jatakas and others also played a role to tell the importance or significance of sharing, sacrifice and peaceful co-existence, Glorifying sacrifice and generosity. These have also played some part in the past, due to which we came this far. I agree that there were degenerating tendencies too, including all the evils of a ritualistic religion, but India, since its inception, has been moderate and accepting, assimilating everyone who came to her.

May this country flourish and prosper, in a better world.

UPSC preparation- My curious case

I remember being asked during the interview for admission to Jnana Prabodhini- A coaching Institute in Pune; ‘What is the significance of your birthday- 21st April.’ I was about to say, The queen celebrates her birthday on the same day, but kept mum. Then came the answer- It is The Civil Services Day.

UPSC Civil Services Exam is considered the toughest exam in this country, and clearing it the ultimate proof of merit for a middle class boy like me. But for my own reasons, this exam has been the holy grail for me since I dreamt about a career, quiet early during my school years. Then came college, and medicine is a satisfying career, with its own limitations. The tussle between preparing for Post Graduation or UPSC Civil Services was postponed from second year to third, to final year and finally internship. I gave my prelims, not knowing how it would be, and am hoping to clear it. Now comes the big question. Where, when, how to prepare for the mains? The past few months have been dull, except for a few sparks here and there. The remaining days are crucial, very crucial. Hope good sense prevails and I give my best shot. Meanwhile, those who are reading this, thanks. This is a personal entry.

Sayonara.

Indo Pak Talks- Ms Hina Rabbani Khar

MEETING HER counterpart. courtesy NDTV

After a long freeze, there is a thaw in our relations with our beloved sibling, to sort out matters of sibling rivalry, dating back to their birth.

Pictures of Ms Hina Rabbani Khar shaking hands with Shri S M Krishna are all over the digital and print media, and I shouldn’t say this, but a big reason for that is the newly appointed gorgeous lady, who has arrived here as the Pakistani Foreign Minister.

One one side is this naive looking lady, meeting our Foreign minister and leaders of opposition, on the other side is our own lady- Ms Nirupama Rao, meeting her counterpart, Salman Bashir. Both of them (Ms Rao and Mr Bashir) are seasoned bureaucrats, and hold a greater sway in the foreign relations than their respective bosses (my personal opinion)

I got curious about Ms Khar on seeing her photos. Yes, she looks great (This is an understatement) and that fuelled my curiosity. being very blunt, I believe she has been made the foreign minister not merely because of her knowledge or stature, as there might be more deserving people in line. Should I call it a desperate measure on Pakistan’s part to attract funding from  the US during its troubled times, when aid is being slashed and there is little to bargain, now that Osama is dead.

I am not being a chauvinist. And commenting about Ms Khar’s credentials or the lack of it would need a much deeper knowledge about Pakistan’s affairs, than what I currently have, but still, there was no major breakthrough. It is too early to say things at this stage, lets see how it goes ahead. One thing I must confess- Indians, including me, have gone bonkers over her, and we may all start loving Pakistan if she visits often. 🙂 May the best happen to us and our brothers.

But there was something else for which I wrote this. I saw a video, http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/india-expresses-concern-about-hina-rabbani-meet-with-hurriyat-122389 , and this changed my perception about Ms Hina Rabbani Khar. She looked impatient and naive before opening her mouth, but when she spoke, everyone else kept quiet. She is confident, intelligent and knows what she speaks, You should listen to her. Our relations with Pakistan should normalise and extend towards cordiality, for a stable region, which will benefit both of us.

Cozying with Advani, who says NO. Just kidding. Courtesy-NDTV

Ms Khar is a young face, and she represents the youth of this sub-continent, who is ambitious, and forgiving. What happened in the past is not our concern, but how we build our future definitely matters. She said, ‘ We are here to create history, and not to be burdened by it.’

Form here, now that the talks have started, we would have to arrive at the point where we discuss the real issues which have plagued us over all these years- Terrorism, Kashmir, Nuclear Weapons, Border Disputes, River Water Sharing- moving via the talks on Trade, Transport, Pipelines, People to People contact and co-operation.

She is glamourous, NDTV

The recent Mumbai attacks have not derailed the talks, which show our commitment towards this issue. The government at Pakistan is relatively stable. Ms Khar and Mr Krishna have a lot of ground to cover, and I wish they do.

Trans Asian Railways

I love trains, all of them. The swanky Shatabdi Express, The Non-Stop Durontos, The Superfasts as well as their neglected cousins – The passenger trains, the metre gauge chug-chugs, the narrow gauge mountain rails, and the obscure trains struggling to stay alive, awaiting conversion or decommissioning. Also, the nostalgic Mountain Railways, Few of them still hauled by steam locomotives.

There are others for local transport. From the Kolkata Trams- Metro- and EMU, to Mumbai locals, and the swanky Delhi Metro, and its older sibling- The parikrama EMU.

For many days, there has been a talk of Trans Asian Rail Link, linking the nations of Asia, from Turkey (which is linked to the European Rail Network) to Iran, and then to the rest of Asia- The Northern Link going to Beijing and Korea, The Central Link connecting Central Asia, And the southern Link going upto Singapore via Pakistan, India, Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia.

This Pan Asian Link will bring about a sea change in many aspects, and is the immediate need, as planning and implementation will take time.

What I feel is being summarised below:

Why Trans Asian Rail Link?

1) Rising oil prices mean that when oil dries up, there will be no immediate fuel for the aircrafts, and the rail connections between countries need to be strong, more importantly for the land locked nations. Though this will take some time, but for an efficient Rail Transport to develop, this much time is required, considering the present condition of Railways in South East Asia.

2) Railways act as an integrating force, bringing people together. China is investing on its Rail Infrastructure in a big way, and will play a leading role in this development. India is in a favourable position at the moment due to its existing Rail Network, and plain terrain in the Northern Plains. The part in the north East has to be developed, which is already a part of our domestic plans, and if linked with neighbouring Myanmar, it will lead to development in the region, reducing its remoteness. Side by side, integration with the Trans Asian Railway will make the north East Our gateway to the ASEAN, leading to development.

3) In the west, we already have a rail link with Pakistan, at Thar and Wagah. Pakistan is linked with Iran, and further, Turkey. Thus, this is the area where the Rail link already exists, and just completing the rail link between India and Myanmar, a functional link can be started very soon, taking the beginners advantage.

4) It will boost Tourism in India, and the whole of Asia, will come on a single tour iternary. Currently, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia- each of them attract more tourists than India. By providing a direct link from Europe to these countries via India, India can act as a stopover for those tourists, and become a popular destination.

The opportunities are immense in this Rail Link, but still, little progress has been made on India’s part. Terrorism can not be justified as an excuse of not taking up this project, as we already have rail links with Pakistan and Bangladesh. Talks are made on the development of North East India, but the true development can only be made by making the region less remote and more accessible, by creating more opportunities and there can be no bigger opportunity than making that region the gateway to India. If we sit and watch, an alternate route will come up in due course vis Central Asia and China, making it the prominent route, entirely bypassing India, or making India a side branch. Are we waiting for this to happen?

Initiative has to be taken. Confidence building measures with Pakistan are being talked of. High level meetings are going on. Our relations with Bangladesh are at their best. Mutual understanding and respect have taken the place of allegations and suspicion. Why not give this a try. All the countries- Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia should come together to start  a trans Asian Railway. There are gauge differences, but they will remain. At those points, trains can be changed, as we do for domestic rails in our own country. What is important is streamlining the visa procedure, and linking the trains according to their timetable.

If an Immediate start has to be made, there is a link from Turkey to Iran, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. A ferry service to Rangoon from Dhaka will not take much time. And again, there is a link from Rangoon to Bangkok and ahead.

Time to Wake up and act.

THE Unique Status Of India

There are many aspects in which are nation is different from others; it is diverse – culturally, economically, linguistically, and all sorts of divisions that can be found in the humanity exist here, with few that are indigenous like the caste system.

But this post does not talk about that. I remember talking to a senior from Sri Lanka. He said, before coming to India, he imagined it to be a different country, a much better version than what he actually saw. Most of it was due to the technological advancement that this country had achieved, its nuclear capability, and the latest shot in the arm (at that time) was India’s mission to the moon. That created a lot of expectation among countries who are developing, and actually see our nation as a role model, which is exemplifying its success, and still being a democracy. Had the commonwealth games been held with out the controversies that accompanied with it, it would have been a big boost to India’s Image.

Coming to the point, India is home to the largest number of Poor in the world, yet, the same India has one of the best missile programmes, a commendable space Institute, proven nuclear deterrence. I ask myself, if we are not able to provide food- the most basic necessity, to our people, then is it justified to spend even a single rupee on the relatively luxurious ambitions of sending a man to space on our own, much of it just for the sake of doing it?

The world today is different from what it used to be during the cold war era, and the position of our country has also changed, and now at least we can claim a permanent berth in the UN security council, which was not the case before. India is a huge country, and the volume of revenue itself can justify money being spent on ambitious projects, while adequately spending on social welfare schemes. I’ll put some points against increased enthusiasm on undertaking ambitious projects, like sending a man to space on our own:

  1. We have a huge share of the downtrodden, our children are still out of schools, our mothers still die during child-birth, while our babies still go un-immunised.
  2. We spend a bare minimum on welfare schemes, our health budget is abysmal, education takes less than 5% of GDP. These sectors have been craving for finance.
  3. Much of the hype is due to the symbolism, but do we actually need one, specially after what happened at the commonwealth games?
  4. What would be the use of starting a vertical program, spending for the research of it, and if it fails, dealing with the failure.

Why can we afford to send a man in space on our own?

  1. Here comes the uniqueness of India. In spite of being a developing country, the sheer size of our economy gives us an advantage, which even developed countries in Europe or Asian tigers lack- We can put funds for research, vis-a-vis concentrating on basic amenities.
  2. The past record of ISRO and organisations like BARC and DRDO has been good, and they are among the few public sponsored research organisations, which are doing good work.
  3. ISRO started its commercial wing- ANTARIX, through which they charge for the satellites they launch for other nations. So, with some inputs now, these organisations can be self-sufficient and also contribute to the exchequer at a later stage, there is just a need of visionary leaders.
  4. This is an area that holds the key to future, where our trained youth can find jobs in their own countries. We have the requisite man-power, harnessing it for our own nation would be an advantage.
  5. It will definitely be a boost to India’s image in the world, for which we undertake many projects in the third world. Since India is seeking a louder say in the world affairs, she has to prove herself, and in the field of Technology, her performance has been lagging.

As far as sending a man to the space is concerned, starting a vertical program for it would not be the best thing to do at the moment; but keeping this target in mind, we can collaborate with Russia, and get an Indian Inducted in their space mission, while collaborating in the technology part. Our relations with Russia have not seen a major breakthrough recently. We cannot ignore that country, as it has been a traditional friend, also, it holds the keys for energy security of the world, and it is a reviving nation. There are other options starting from scratch with another nation like Israel or a European nation, or The IBSA nations. This way, the costs would be shared and we could benefit from each others Technological Expertise.

The possibilities are immense. There is another area of utilising thorium for our reactors, the third stage of our nuclear program. Our satellite program is more or less on the right track. India needs to invest in this field, and concentrate on putting a tab on the parallel economy, to increase our revenue, so that the financial constraints are reduced, and we can be free to pursue our goals.